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Future lies in internet and wireless: Time Warner's Parsons

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MUMBAI: Global media giants have suddenly got serious about internet. The mood is reflected in the recent buys News Corp and Viacom have done, gobbling up internet assets like mySpace.com, propertyfinder.com, Neopets and iFilm at valuations that have surprised many.

Drawing inspiration from its rivals' aggressive internet strategies, Time Warner's chairman-CEO Richard Parsons refuses to jettison his plans on the internet and wireless front. Irrespective of the fact that Time Warner burnt its fingers with its 2001 merger with America Online Limited (AOL), Parsons feels the convergence of traditional media and the Internet is inevitable with online advertising holding an "exciting potential".

"We are the only media company with a major stake in the Internet", Parsons said during an interview with New Yorker media columnist Ken Auletta. However, he acknowledged the ongoing talks with competitors to sell off a stake in AOL. According to Parsons, Microsoft, Yahoo and a partnership of Google and Comcast have expressed interest in buying or partnering with AOL in recent weeks.

Parsons expressed Time Warner's interest in retaining some control over the division even if a deal goes through. "We want to help our other companies to take advantage of the Internet and it would be easier if we retained part of AOL after a deal goes through," he said during the interview.

When queried by Auletta about areas where Time Warner was not active presently, Parsons singled out Wireless and gaming. "Games online and computer games are becoming a huge, huge business, with young males aging 18 to 35."

Parsons hinted at Time Warner's plans to attempt some acquisitions or deals on the wireless front. The company has already made its foray into wireless as it joined Comcast, Cox and Brighthouse in a wireless-cable venture with Sprint Nextel to develop a way for consumers to watch cable TV through their cell phone

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